Monthly Archives: August 2004

Banana – ‘I Don’t Want To be Labelled’

I’ve never understood why they put labels on fruit, announcing what the fruit is. It’s like putting a label on your cat saying ‘cat’, just in case you mistake it for a sheep. I also don’t entirely get the point…

Six Degrees

Six Degrees is the theory that everyone in the world can be linked through just six friends-of-friends. In other words, you’re only six friends away from The Queen, Madonna, Skippy the Kangaroo, whoever. This inspired me to list my favourite…

I Hate CD Cases

I’ve just broken yet another new CD case. Why oh why do they have such flimsy plastic hinges? And why do the little teeth in the middle, which I believe are called “nubbins”, always snap? Can’t someone invent CD cases…

This Land

Turn the sound up on your computer and watch a preposterous presidential rendition of the famous American song This Land

Hertford: The Unauthorised Biography

Hertford may look like a quiet backwater. But it was once essentially the capital of England. Hertford is also responsible for the date of Easter. It was crucial to the education of two of our greatest monarchs. It’s infamous in…

Danes and Mimrams

The Danes invaded Hertford several times, arriving by river from London. This was pretty easy as a ridiculous number of rivers flow through the town: notably the Beane, the Rib, the Lee (or Lea) and the Mimram. No-one knows where…

Hertford Responsible for Easter

In the year 678, Hertford was the venue for the first General Synod of England, organised by Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury. The Synod united the churches of the six English kingdoms for the first time and established links with Rome…

Hertford Castle

Hertford Castle was a royal palace for 300 years. Its flint walls remain, but the old castle-like building that survives in the grounds is in fact the castle’s gatehouse, built in 1463. In 1216, it was besieged by the Dauphin…

Boys in Blue

For 400 years, Hertford was home to a famous school called Christ’s Hospital or Bluecoats. It’s now an independent boarding school and it’s moved to Sussex. But its buildings and distinctive statues of blue-uniformed pupils remain. Established in 1552 to…

Quaint Quakers

Hertford boasts the world’s oldest Quaker Meeting House. Founded in 1669, it’s been in use ever since.

Witch Wenham

The last witch to be condemned to death in England was from Walkern village near Hertford. Known locally as a “wise woman”, Jane Wenham complained in 1712 that her neighbour was accusing her of witchcraft. So the local vicar mediated…

First Fridge

There’s a small mound in Hertford castle gardens with an underground door. This is an 18th century ice-house, where ice from frozen rivers was stored to form a predecessor of the fridge.